“Sometimes it’s good to do these things in person,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said after meeting with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble to discuss what to do about Europe’s debt crisis.
But it’s not easy pulling off a 72-hour, five-city blitz of European officials to proffer advice and some discreet prodding. It involves crossing the Atlantic Ocean twice and darting between Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris, Marseille and Milan, holding eight face-to-face meetings and three media sessions, as well as speaking with heads of state, finance ministers and central bankers.
It was unlikely that President Barack Obama, a big basketball fan, was going to miss the seventh and final game of a hard fought NBA playoff series between his hometown Chicago Bulls and the Boston Celtics on Saturday night.
But it happened to fall on one of the regular “date nights” that the U.S. leader had promised to First Lady Michelle Obama upon their arrival in Washington in January.
Solution: an early dinner at French restaurant Michel Richard Citronelle in Georgetown. A 14-vehicle Presidential motorcade pulled up outside the swanky restaurant, drawing hundreds of onlookers and blocking traffic as the upscale area’s Saturday night party scene got underway.
The restaurant is one of Washington’s mostexclusive eateries. A table was not available on its online booking system until May 29, and that was before the Obamas’ appearence made headlines and was widely Twittered. After the U.S. leader dined with Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty at Ben’s Chili Bowl in January, the landmark DC institution had queues outside for weeks.
Although Citronelle’s website boasts that Conde Nast Traveler magazine called it “one of the world’s most exciting restaurants,” Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema was not so flattering in an October 2008 review.
“Throughout a recent dinner at what used to be a four-star experience, an unmistakable joylessness courses through the fading underground dining room that bears the name of one of the country’s most esteemed chefs,” Sietsema wrote http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/restaurants/michel-richard-citronelle,795996.html#editorial-review
Nonetheless, Sietsema added in his review that Richard and his staff still put on an impressive show. “I adore Citronelle’s tomato tart, which springs from a pastry base (and cucumber gelee) like a colorful bouquet. And sablefish marinated with sake, miso and mirin before hitting the broiler is about as good as that creature gets.”
Like clockwork, two hours after departing the White House, the Obamas’ 14-vehicle motorcade departed cheering crowds in Georgetown and arrived home apparently in time for the Bulls-Celtics 8 p.m. tip-off.
The President then took the First Lady for a brief stroll across the White House grounds, waving to photographers. Game Night could now begin.